Session Chairs


Biosurveillance and Molecular Techniques

Nancy Denslow

Professor
University of Florida

Nancy Denslow’s research involves developing and using molecular biomarkers to evaluate changes in gene expression depending on stress or exposure to contaminants. For environmental species, molecular approaches, including microarray analysis and proteomics, were developed for several non-model species, including fish, gastropods, and coral. Fish swim in waters that are contaminated by superfund chemicals and emerging contaminants of concern and, thus, provide a direct measure of effects of the contaminants in vertebrates. Nancy recently served on a Blue Ribbon Panel to assess contaminants found in reused water in California.


Margaret (Maggie) Hunter

Research Geneticist
Wetland and Aquatic Research Center

Margaret Hunter attended the University of Florida where she received a B.Sc. in Microbiology and Cellular Sciences and minored in Chemistry and Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology. Following her bachelor degree, she received a PhD in Veterinary Medical Sciences researching Sirenia (manatee and dugong) cytogenetics and conservation genetics. Margaret’s affiliations consists of USGS Sirenia Project USGS Genetics and Genomics Research Courtesy Assistant Professor, University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences Affiliated faculty member, University of Florida Aquatic Animal Health Program Affiliated faculty member, University of Florida Genetics Institute.


Thomas Waltzek is a current Assistant Professor at the University of Florida and a Research Coordinator for the Aquatic Animal Health Program. His interests include the characterization of emerging aquatic animal viruses (EAAVs), the development of diagnostic methodologies to track EAAVs, and aquatic animal zoonoses. Thomas enjoys fishing, hiking, traveling, snowboarding and racquetball.


Education

Gordon Bauer

Experimental Psychologist
New College of Florida

Gordon is an experimental psychologist at New College of Florida. During his time at New College, Gordon established a manatee research project at Mote Marine Laboratory in 1998. The Mote Marine Laboratory and New College of Florida continues to conduct research about manatees and their habitat until this day.


Iske Larkin

Educational Coordinator, Aquatic Animal Health Program
University of Florida

Iske Larkin’s position focuses on coordinating and developing new educational opportunities within the Aquatic Animal Health Program and the College of Veterinary Medicine. Her research activities are only a small portion of her efforts but include monitoring the effectiveness of online learning strategies ranging from upper level undergrads, graduate students, veterinary students and professionals. Iske’s scientific research includes the study of manatee reproduction, physiology and behavior. Her previous work consists of developing and validating steroid hormone assays for various species, including mammals and birds. Currently, Iske studies male manatee reproductive anatomy at the gross and histological level.


Health Assessments

Martine de Wit

Veterinarian
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Martine de Wit graduated from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, where she started her career in exotic animal medicine. Since 2004, she has been working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in the Marine Mammal Pathology Lab that responds to calls of manatees in distress and researches manatee health through necropsy and live animal health assessments.


Craig Pelton

Clinical Coordinator & Clinical Associate Professor
University of Florida

Dr. Pelton has been working with marine mammals for 30 years as a trainer, researcher, stranding response coordinator/rehabilitation director. For the past 11 years, Dr. Pelton worked as veterinarian for several marine parks, stranding response organizations, and the University of Florida. His seven-year involvement with dolphin and Sirenian health assessments include the Health and Environmental Risk Assessment program in the Indian River Lagoon and Charleston Harbor, and the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program in Sarasota Bay. He also was involved with manatee health assessments throughout Florida and Alabama, and dugong work in Moreton bay, Australia.


Infectious Diseases, Toxoplasmosis and Zoonotic Diseases

Thomas Waltzek

Research Coordinator & Assistant Professor
University of Florida

Thomas Waltzek is a current Assistant Professor at the University of Florida and a Research Coordinator for the Aquatic Animal Health Program. His interests include the characterization of emerging aquatic animal viruses (EAAVs), the development of diagnostic methodologies to track EAAVs, and aquatic animal zoonoses. Thomas enjoys fishing, hiking, traveling, snowboarding and racquetball.


Stranding, Rescue, Rehabilitation and Intervention

Stacy DiRocco

Veterinarian
SeaWorld

Dr. Stacy DiRocco is a veterinarian at SeaWorld Orlando. One of her more recent accomplishments involves rescuing a manatee from a drain in Jacksonville, FL. Her goals are not only to improve marine mammal health but also to find ways to lengthen their lifespan.


Mike Walsh

Clinical Coordinator & Clinical Associate Professor
University of Florida

Mike Walsh is a former veterinarian at SeaWorld in Florida. Mike currently works at the University of Florida as a Clinical Associate Professor and a Clinical Coordinator for the Aquatic Animal Health Program. His research interest varies from preventive medicine program development, conservation and endangered species research in sirenians, cetaceans, and sea turtles. Mike’s current research projects include nutritional evaluation and components in cetaceans, manatees and sharks, whole blood element analysis in marine animals as a diagnostic tool, manatee milk analysis, and use of thermography as a diagnostic tool.


Water Quality and Indian River Lagoon

Duane DeFreese

Executive Director
Indian River Lagoon Council

Duane DeFreese is the Executive Director for the Indian River Lagoon Council. DeFreese has worked for over three decades in Florida to educate people about economic and environmental values associated with the protection of Florida’s land, freshwater and marine natural assets. Nationally recognized, DeFreese puts forth his efforts to promote ocean and coastal scientific research, conservation and technology development in Florida.


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Upcoming Deadlines

Call for Abstracts
November 30, 2017

Registration Information
Coming Soon

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